How to support a partner going through IVF

How to Support a Partner Going Through IVF

3 min read

Supporting someone who is going through fertility treatment can be tricky, especially if that person is your partner. (And at Day 1 Fertility, we know a thing or two about support during fertility treatment.) Because the nature of fertility treatment is an uneven one (there is typically—thought not always—one person actively going through treatment and one person who isn’t), it often puts couples at opposite ends of the experience (active vs. passive) and even the strongest partnerships can find this hard to navigate. How can you best support your partner as they are poked, prodded, monitored, undergo procedures, have haywire hormones and generally have their entire life and routine disrupted? Your partner is living and breathing fertility treatment all day, every day, so the best thing you can do is to take charge where you can and alleviate some of the day-to-day burden. Here are four tips on how to help your partner as they go through IVF.

Note: As the supporting partner, you also likely are feeling a range of emotions (maybe sidelined and helpless?) and could use some support yourself. Make sure to lean on your support system where you can and prioritize connection with your partner—some of these tips will help you navigate your feelings, too.

Take on more of the clinic communication.

Why is it that the person who is undergoing treatment is the one to manage the bulk of communication? Your partner has already had to rearrange their schedule to fit in daily monitoring and frequent procedures, so let’s try to even out the time requirements. Consider volunteering to take on the clinic update calls during the week to take one interruption off their plate. My guess is you might get some pushback, but remind your partner that it can be stressful to be the one receiving results and then having to share them and that you can handle more of what goes into managing the clinic (because you definitely can).

Do more, so they can think less.

The multi-step process of IVF is a lot and often includes time in treatment, dealing with medicated monthly cycles, gearing up for a retrieval, or prepping for an embryo transfer—it can be all-consuming. Even small things that might sound mundane, like what to make for dinner, can be one more burden and feel like too much. The fix? Take on more of the household tasks and errands to keep your home life running smoothly. This will likely require a bit of planning and shuffling of responsibilities, not to mention setting expectations so that you’re actually covering tasks in a helpful and stres–free way. 

The Best IVF Diet for Before and After Transfer →

Understand your partner’s unique triggers.

Every journey is unique and going through treatment (especially after loss) can be challenging. Understanding your partner's triggers is a great way to show support and the conversation alone (with active listening and a safe space) can be the win. In practice, this might mean redirecting conversations or encounters you know will make your partner feel bad (the dreaded: “When are you having kids?” question) or helping to plan time for self-care around stressful situations (like the holidays). You likely won’t completely avoid stress when going through fertility treatment, but ignoring it won’t help your mental health either. Commit to talking through feelings as they come up and collaborate on solutions to reduce stress and triggers.

Celebrate each milestone.

This might be my all-time favourite suggestion. We need to celebrate the milestones, just as much as the outcome. Completing any treatment is huge and acknowledging what your partner has gone through is so important. Celebrating can be as simple as a nice dinner or having their favorite snacks on hand after a treatment. It could be booking a massage or enjoying a movie night. What’s key is that you communicate appreciation and celebrate before you know the outcome. Making it through treatment is celebration-worthy.

Being a partner who plays a proactive role in the journey can be the piece that makes you go from feeling like you are watching the game, to being on the field.